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  Ferrari 121 LM Scaglietti Spyder      

  Article Image gallery (61) Chassis (3) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1955
Numbers built:3 + 1 converted 118 LM
Designed by:Scaglietti
Predecessor:Ferrari 118 LM Scaglietti Spyder
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:May 28, 2009
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn the 1953 and 1954 seasons Ferrari's new four cylinder engine proved quite successful and convinced its designer Aurelio Lampredi and Enzo Ferrari to take the design one step further. Just like the small 'four', the new six cylinder engine was inspired by highly competitive British powerplants produced by the likes of Jaguar and Aston Martin. The easiest way to create a 'six' was by adding two cylinders to the 2 litre 'four', which was found in the 500 Mondial. Dubbed the '306' for three litre, six cylinder, the experimental new engine first ran late in 1954.

All the experimenting on the 3 litre engine resulted in two new sportscar powerplants; the 3.7 litre Type 118 and the 4.4 litre Type 121. The engines were installed in a chassis similar to that of the 750 Monza. Bodied by Scaglietti the new cars were officially known as the 376 S and 446 S respectively, but the names were changed to 118 LM and 121 LM. Three of both were constructed, but halfway through the 1955 season one of the 118 LMs was upgraded by the factory to 121 LM specifications.

The first serious race for the new cars was the Buenos Aires 1000 km race, where a single 118 LM was entered by the works backed up by seven privateers. It looked like a debut victory for the six cylinder car in its first World Championship race, but it was disqualified after it took a wrong exit into the pits. Two locals secured a Ferrari one-two finish, saving the day for the Italian manufacturer. Next up was the Mille Miglia where a single 118 LM and three 121 LMs were fielded against very strong competition from Stirling Moss in his Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.

The Anglo-German combination had taken an early lead, but the powerful Ferraris quickly gained on Moss and eventually overtook him. Unfortunately the high pace required to reel the 300 SLR in, proved too much for the tires and all of the big sixes crashed out. Moss' co-driver journalist Dennis Jenkinson reported in his epic article about the race that they had literally seen pieces of rubber come off the Ferraris' tires. The less powerful 118 LM was more kind on its tires and managed to finish third behind the victorious Moss; the SLR's finest victory.

Ferrari came to the Le Mans 24 Hours race as the defending champions, and were very eager to take revenge on the silver arrows. The Scuderia's intentions were underlined on the test day where Eugenio Castellotti set the fastest time in his 121 LM. The race was completely overshadowed by the worst accident in motorsport, which saw one of the SLRs fly into a grandstand killing 77 spectators and injuring many more. The race continued to enable the authorities free access to and from the track. The race was won by a Jaguar D-Type and the 121 LM was forced to retire from third position.

At the end of the season Ferrari was just one point short of securing the World Championship, but this was mainly due to the points scored by privateers with the more reliable four and twelve cylinder racers. All six cylinder works cars were sold at the end of the season, and under guidance of new technical director Vittorio Jano Ferrari returned to the V12 engine for their big sports racers. There was definitely potential in the six cylinder cars, but lack of development and changes in the staff cut the life short of the only straight six engined cars Ferrari ever constructed.

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  Article Image gallery (61) Chassis (3) Specifications